Friday, December 18, 2009

Oracle Turns the Corner with EC and Enterprise Software Spending

On the heals of what appeared to be a "green light" Monday from the EU bureaucrats on it's $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Oracle reported better-than-expected second quarter sales and profit Thursday.

According to a Jeffries & Co. analyst, there appears to be a recovering market for corporate software and the second quarter for Oracle was a turning point that signals enterprise spending on software is really starting to improve.

As a one-time employee and continued supporter of Sun Microsystems, a company among the leading technology innovators in the business, I hope this week's news is a good omen for Sun. If Ellison is correct in his September statement that Sun has been losing $100 million a month, employees, shareholders and customers alike will be well served under an Oracle change in control early next year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

VCE Forms Coalition of the Willing

As Reuters first reported last Friday, VMware, Cisco and EMC officially announced a special coalition on Tuesday under a new VCE moniker "Virtual Computing Environment".

The new VCE comprises four key components: pre-configured and tested product bundles called Vblocks; a joint direct sales and support organization headed by its own yet-to-be hired CEO; a new joint system integrator ecosystem, and a joint venture services and integration company called Acadia that counts Cisco, EMC, VMware, and Intel as investors.

This coalition is the lastest example of an increasing trend toward consolidation and vertical integration among the large enterprise IT vendors; however, what is unprecedented, is the degree to which it not only excludes, but flat out snubs all three of the VCE's existing OEM partners. Clearly, VMware is taking the biggest risk since HP alone sells 36% of all virtualized servers worldwide.

Furthermore, it's a mystery why BMC Software, a strategic partner and participant in Cisco's major UCS announcement last March, was snubbed. Perhaps it was so EMC CEO, Joe Tucci, could boast about his company's new management stack called Ionix during Tuesday's
announcement. Or perhaps it was BMC Software that wouldn't join the "Coalition of the Willing", at the expense of alienating some of it's most strategic and profitable partnerships in Dell, Deloitte, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and Sun Microsystems.

I suspect customers will be taking a "wait and see" stance to this announcement. But judging by the public statements from Dell and NetApp, and HP's converged infrastructure architecture and products announcement today, most of the large IT vendors are viewing the VCE coalition in the context of an all out war.

Monday, November 2, 2009

VCE Alliance Rumored to Announce Formal Venture this Week

Since August, rumors have been swirling around the VCE (VMware, Cisco, EMC) alliance companies that a data center joint venture (code named Alpine) was imminent. Fast forward to October 30th when Reuters reported that VCE was preparing to announce a new line of networking, computing, and storage products dubbed "vBlock" to better compete against IBM and HP.

Although officials from all three companies have declined comments, several industry trades have reported the rumor appears a good bet and that it will likely be announced ahead of Cisco's Q1FY2010 financial results due after market close on Wednesday.

The joint venture would allow the companies to appear as one from a customer perspective, but be backed by the credibility and balance sheets of Cisco and EMC. It remains to be seen whether the three separate companies can pull off a neutral position with their existing technology, OEM, and channel partners. Judging by the recent announcements from Dell and IBM partnering with Juniper Networks, the bigger, more strategic partners will increasingly hedge their bets by establishing partnerships with VMware, Cisco, and EMC competitors.

It's interesting that two of the most acquisitive companies in the industry would do a joint venture rather than a traditional merger. But with Cisco's $133 billion market capitalization, and EMC and VMware's combined $49 billion valuation, neither can easily afford to buy the other; however, they can ill-afford to allienate their existing >10% revenue partners either.

Monday, October 12, 2009

McNealy's Keynote Dovetails with Industry's Fascination with Integrated Stacks

Both Sun Microsystems Chairman and co-founder Scott McNealy and Oracle CEO and founder Larry Ellison took the stage to deliver keynotes that kicked off Oracle OpenWorld last night.

In keeping with the industry's fascination with stacks, McNealy made the case for why Oracle is keen on Sun's technology. According to McNealy in his keynote address,

"If you think about the Sun technology that we're bringing to the party here, it's the data center. It's the servers, the storage, the networking, the infrastructure software, all the pieces, all of the executable environment within the cloud, the data center, the distributed computing environment, whatever else you want to say, and then you bring in the database, and the applications and ERP and middleware capabilities and developer tool capabilities of Oracle, and you have a very nice data center. A very robust, very scalable... enterprise data center."

Like the other big players in the enterprise IT market, IBM, HP, and Cisco (via its VCE alliance), Sun-Oracle recognizes the power of owning all the pieces of the end-to-end stack. There are clear advantages in a company being able to offer its customers fully integrated cross-domain bundles and be a one-stop shop to the enterprise data center. One of the biggest advantages is having a sticky reason for customers to want and value you that's not based on price.

Clearly, the major vendors are seeing a shift among enterprise customers toward a focus on higher level application value and services rather than a focus on specific technologies and products at the bits and bytes level. This shift is partly due to the economic downturn and the pressure on IT to cut costs and add tangible value to the business.

When it comes to the single integrated stack concept, analysts say they've seen this movie before. Back in the dotcom era, a lot of industry pundits talked about the "God box" in the networking space. It was basically a big, intelligent network switch that functioned as a router, switch, PBX, VPN, and firewall integrated within a single device. In the end, no customers wanted to go there. For the networking vendors, it was sufficient to articulate the vision as part of their corporate strategy, and have the majority of the individual components within their product portfolio.

Time will tell whether the integrated stack concept is a remake of this movie. For now, we're watching industry consolidation in action and having a fascination with stacks.

Monday, October 5, 2009

HP Should Buy Brocade

Shares of Brocade Communications jumped nearly 19% today due to a report in the Wall Street Journal the company has put itself up for sale. Based on today's closing price, Brocade has a market capitalization of $3.8 Billion, which is a relatively low multiple for a company that holds a strong market position in the data center LAN and SAN switching segments to ride the next wave in the transition to a converged network.

Not surprisingly, the WSJ report included speculation on the potential buyers, siting HP and Oracle as the most likely suitors. IMHO, Oracle is a very unlikely suitor given it's preoccupation with the Sun Microsystems acquisition, and the unlikelihood Larry Ellison wants to own a LAN and SAN hardware business.

HP, however, could gain a lot from the acquisition of Brocade's business, particularly in light of its heightened competition and bitter rivalry with Cisco Systems since the networking behemoth entered the market for blade servers this Spring. Let's take a closer look at the various dynamics at work that make an HP-Brocade marriage a good bet:
  • With the trend toward IT industry consolidation heating up, many of the large, enterprise IT vendors are finding it cheaper and less risky to buy and control their own destiny than build R&D and/or forge partnerships with companies that might one day be their fiercest competitor... Precisely what happened to HP when it once enjoyed being a 10% customer for Cisco as a reseller of its switches and routers, only to later become its biggest target in the server market.
  • There is a large push towards a converged IT infrastructure to deliver more agility and less complexity to IT operations. The converged network (aka Unified Fabric) is a big piece of this vision, bringing together IP, Ethernet, Fibre Channel, CNAs and switch ports. When it comes to networking, Cisco is in a position of strength, both in market share and driving the standards bodies. The only other networking and storage interconnect company with great technology and the FC installed base to compete with Cisco is Brocade.
  • Although HP has recently beefed up its networking business with its own ProCurve line of Ethernet switches, it's rarely deployed in the core of the network, and to date, HP has yet to articulate a comprehensive roadmap or a compelling story around FCoE or DCB to its enterprise customers who are keenly interested in hearing about its converged network vision.
  • HP ProCurve could be repositioned for the access and aggregation layers of the network while Brocade's Foundry Ethernet/IP switches could be positioned in the core along with its FC Directors and FCoE convergence products so there would be very little product overlap and the merged technologies would be a genuine challenger to Cisco.
One of the potential areas of concern would be around the impact to Brocade's OEM business should HP acquire Brocade. Reportedly, IBM is a 15%-20% revenue customer for Brocade and EMC is a 10% customer. Worst case scenario, it could mean a 25 -30% hit to revenue if the IBM and EMC OEM business went away entirely. Perhaps EMC could funnel all its FC switching business to Cisco in retaliation, but that would be unlikely given Brocade's FC installed base. As for IBM, they have multiple reseller agreements, including Brocade, Cisco, and Juniper, and they are currently supporting Juniper's development of an FCoE switch, so a change in control with respect to Brocade probably wouldn't make much of a difference.

In summary, I think HP and Brocade would be a terrific match. It would be great for the two companies as well as the industry, and it would certainly give Cisco a force to be reconned with in its quest for domination of the data center.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Back to the Future: Vertical Integration is the Winning Strategy

For two decades, horizontal business models in the high tech industry reigned supreme, as companies like Intel, Microsoft, EMC, HP, Cisco, and Oracle came to dominate within their horizontal layer at the expense of DEC, Wang, Apollo, Data General, and others that clung to vertical business models despite fundamental shifts in the industry.

Fast forward to today, coming off a near-death experience in the financial markets, where we live in an environment of increasing consolidation, reduced competition, and greater uncertainty. An environment ideal for vertical reintegration by select companies who can utilize the changing dynamics to potentially build winning vertically integrated strategies to own the end-to-end stack. Here are a few examples of vertical reintegration in action:
  • Oracle buying Sun to deliver hardware & software combinations to become the backbone of most enterprises worldwide
  • Cisco getting into the server market with UCS - and with a $33B war chest, they can buy their way into storage and IT services if they choose
  • EMC getting into server virtualization (aka VMware), systems provisioning and management in the data center
  • Dell buying Perot Systems to get into the higher margin, more strategic enterprise IT services space
If you're skeptical these examples equate to a 'back to the future' shift towards vertical business models, consider the following dynamics:
  • Co-opetition is out; Bare-knuckle competition is in. Larry Ellison has declared war on IBM to become the dominant player in the software and systems business from application to disk. Cisco served notice to HP and IBM concerning the server business, and is willing to sacrifice their networking OEM business for world domination in the converged infrastructure business.
  • Vertical is relatively cheap. Despite a much improved stock market, company valuations are still relatively cheap. Combine cheap valuations with open source, fabless semiconductor businesses, commodity hardware, and SaaS, and it's not as expensive to buy your way up the stack as it used to be.
  • Businesses buy solutions, not products. Products don't solve business problems, solutions do. A lot of companies make good point products, but the companies that can package them up so customers don't have to allocate their own IT resources to put them together, will have a seat at the table, be strategically positioned, and win the sale.
  • Eroding margins. This is the nature of a maturing industry. But if you own the end-to-end stack, are the backbone of most enterprise infrastructures, and are sticky and strategic to IT operations, you're in a better position to control margins.
Whether this vertical reintegration trend is good or bad for the industry and customers is a topic for another blog. It's way too early to judge, anyway. But it's a good bet there will be more M&A, further shifting battle lines, and several bumps in the road that will prevent a quick return to the future in this unfolding plot.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Oracle-Sun: Breaking Out From a Summer of Silence

To make up for a summer of silence, Oracle and Sun are now taking the gloves off as Larry Ellison gave tangible proof on September 15th of his intention to be a formidable player in the hardware infrastructure business, launching his first joint product with Sun Microsystems called Exadata V2.

Effectively dumping HP, after launching Exadata V1 with Mark Hurd at Oracle OpenWorld 2008 nearly a year ago,
Ellison has quelled any lingering speculation he might spin off Sun's hardware business to HP. Although HP was not directly mentioned during the Exadata V2 launch, it was quintessential Larry Ellison on center stage, calling out a few of his favorite rivals, IBM, Teradata, Netezza, HDS, and the unnamed in-memory OLTP database start-ups that venture capitalists, according to Ellison, "may be sorry they invested in."

Exadata V2, benefiting from the inherent performance gains of Intel Nehalem 5500 series processors and DDR3 memory, also incorporates Sun IP designed by the brilliant Andy Bechtolsheim such as "FlashFire" flash memory cards and 40Gb/sec Infiniband switches, that all told, can reach up to 1 Million random read/write IOPS.
These performance numbers make Exadata V2 scream in running OLTP workloads, but can also run data warehousing workloads twice as fast as Exadata V1.

Subsequent to the joint Sun Oracle product launch, several analysts were quick to point out that Exadata V2 incorporates Intel x86 processors and Oracle Enterprise Linux as opposed to Sun's latest generation "Victoria Falls" dual socket, eight-core CMT processors and Solaris 10, appearing to contradict Oracle's recent WSJ ad proclaiming its increased investment in the SPARC/Solaris platform.

But rumor has it that Larry is saving his joint Oracle-Sun SPARC/Solaris product announcement, that will likely be even bigger on superlatives, for October 12th at this year's Oracle OpenWorld.

Although 2009 marked the summer of silence for the technology sector, it's gearing up to be anything but that as we close out the remaining months of a challenging, yet interesting year.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Little Deja Vu in Oracle's Latest WSJ Ad to Sun Customers

Thursday, Oracle ran a follow-on to its August 27th Wall Street Journal ad. The Thursday ad was much more pragmatic, and directed at Sun customers who continue to wrestle with the uncertainty surrounding the still-pending merger, officially delayed by the European Commission on September 3rd due to its "serious concerns" about the database market impact. Unless Oracle makes a dramatic concession concerning MySQL, the Europeans will keep the merger in limbo-land for another quarter.

On its face, the ad gives every indication Oracle will keep Sun's SPARC/Solaris hardware business. The ad also is an acknowledgement that "Ellison and company" realize full well that Sun is bleeding server market share, and therefore, needs to do what it legally can to prevent further customer defection of the SPARC/Solaris platforms.

Call me a nitpicky parser of words, but the first three promises in the ad all end with the operative words "than Sun does now;" Since Sun's R&D budget for SPARC and Solaris is likely at a historical low, and the company has made drastic cuts to its employee headcount over the last year, Oracle's assertions are not as bold as they appear.

In addition to Oracle's claim it will increase its investment in Sun SPARC and Solaris, the ad takes a strong competitive posture towards IBM. It's not surprising that Oracle would target IBM since it would be the only other company that could truly offer a comparatively integrated enterprise hardware and software stack. But it's a bit curious why HP has been spared from attack. After all, both HP and IBM have been relentlessly pursuing Sun's customer base with enticing trade-in and migration services programs over the last few quarters.

The ultimate irony is that my parsing of Larry Ellison's words took me back to 1993 when I was a sales rep at Sun Microsystems. At the time, IBM was on the watch list for extinction - victimized by missteps of its own making - and so the board brought in Lou Gerstner as IBM's Chairman and CEO. There was a lot of uncertainly surrounding IBM's future viability and whether Gerstner would break up the company. Gerstner made the bold decision to keep the company together, defiantly declaring, "The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision."

Most people took this statement to mean that Gerstner didn't believe IBM needed to be a visionary company. Years later, Gerstner clarified his operative words "right now". Perhaps Larry Ellison is taking a page from the old IBM-Gerstner playbook in carefully choosing his words in his latest Oracle WSJ advert.

Monday, September 7, 2009

VMware's Software Mainframe Analogy: Is it All Good?

VMware's CEO, Paul Maritz, has been touting the vSphere "software mainframe" analogy since his VMworld Europe keynote earlier this year, and undoubtedly, it's been resonating with the 45 and older IT crowd. But is it all good?

Numerous industry analysts have given the mainframe analogy a big thumbs up, and I acknowledge, it's clever marketing. With vSphere 4.0, VMware is taking defining principles of mainframe computing like Reliability, Availability, Serviceability (RAS), performance, and centralized control, and bringing them to commodity x86 hardware with its new application services like VMware Fault Tolerance, Hot Add, Host Profiles, and vShield Zones. With these mainframe-class features, VMware intends to drive deeper and broader adoption of it virtualized infrastruture software into the data center so enterprises will begin to virtualize Tier 1 applications.

Clearly, VMware's platform has grown from a hypervisor into a more comprehensive operating system that can handle much of the virtual resources in a data center. But does the mainframe vision come with a monolithic, expensive development and operating expense curve that lacks flexibility?

As VMware' competitive battle with Microsoft and Xen variants intensify, it will need to be agile and continue to deliver lower operating expense curves while adding more mainframe-like functionality up the software stack. This will be the ultimate challenge -- mixing agility and flexibility with mainframe features and functions at a lower TCO than the competition. My hunch is that time will drive adjustments to the vision and competitive focus. This isn't necessarily bad for VMware, but it's not all good.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Official Announcement: Xen Cloud Platform Initiative

The big build up by the press that Citrix was going to majorly diss VMware by unveiling its Xen Cloud Platform (XCP) initiative at Monday's VMworld kick-off was a dud. In fact, there turned out to be far more written about the technical glitches experienced in the lab sessions on Monday.

The meat of the XCP announcement was around the possibilities of community alignment, and the value proposition of open source technologies that can truly deliver on innovation, openness, and interoperability to free customers from proprietary, vendor lock-in.

Clearly, if the community can fulfill its new charter to create stable, well-defined APIs around a single, compatible code base, it will drive rapid adoption of the Xen hypervisor as service providers and enterprises expand their virtual data center deployments in 2010.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Citrix Set to Announce an Open-Source vCloud on VMware's Turf

Word is trickling out that Citrix plans to announce on Monday, at the kickoff of the VMworld conference, an open-source version of VMware's vCloud called the Xen Cloud Platform (XCP) that's virtual machine agnostic, non-proprietary, and significantly less expensive than vSphere 4 -- all with the promise of no vendor lock-in.

The Xen Cloud Platform will supposedly surround the Xen hypervisor with a complete runtime virtual infrastructure platform that virtualizes all server, storage, and network resources. In addition, it will be completely
virtual machine agnostic, in contrast with VMware's vSphere platform which currently runs exclusively on its own infrastructure.

In an interview on Friday, Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix's Virtualization and Management Division, hinted at "substantial contributions" to come from Oracle, HP, and Novell.

I can hardly wait until Monday. It's sure to be an interesting week in San Francisco, particularly if you're at the VMworld conference.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Cloud: The Sky is Not the Limit, The Network Is

The inherent mobility benefit you get from a virtualized infrastructure is driving IT shops, large and small, to take virtualization to the next level to begin to deliver dynamic IT services to the business. At the server and storage layers, we've seen a lot of innovation and tight integration between the various virtualization software and storage vendors. However, at the network layer, the integration gets much trickier to truly deliver on the promise of virtual machine mobility. Today, key network settings like QoS, ACLs and VLANs only allow policies to be applied at the physical port level. Whereas in a virtual environment, policies need to be applied to workloads at the virtual machine layer to enable networks to extend out to the VM boundary.

No doubt, the next big innovation coming is in the network layer in order to gain visibility at the upper layers of the software stack, and automate core network services that are largely manual, and labor-intensive today.

Cisco is ahead of the curve in this regard. They have worked closely with VMware on VN-Link to begin to deliver on the promise of VM-aware networking. I suspect we'll soon be hearing more from other established players like Brocade, Juniper, F5, and networking start-ups such as Arista Networks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Don't Get Sucked into The Cloud Hype Vortex

I've been in the industry long enough to know better than to get sucked into the hype vortex of vendor marketing run-a-muck, complete with declarations of major paradigm shifts, self-healing architectures, and newfangled delivery and deployment models of computing. After all, I've been on the front lines selling client-network computing, client/server computing, Internet computing, grid computing, etc. over the years. And I'm painfully aware of the wide gap between when customers write checks to actually adopt new technology, and when vendors promoting the technology predict they'll to be adopted.

Yesterday, a colleague and I went to a full-day VMware vSphere 4 SolutionTrack technical sales training. Apart from VMware Marketing having a bad habit of changing the names of its products every few months and confusing partners and customers alike, the hype the company is spewing about the Cloud, and its vSphere 4 platform being the first Cloud OS, has become deafening. Frankly, I believe it will ultimately do more harm than good in enhancing the company's credibility in its future combat with Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.

I do admire VMware in many ways. They employ a lot of scary smart people, and have a bold vision around "IT as a service" that I find compelling. And their vision gets far more coverage than that from Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM... at least up to now. But, I keep lamenting why VMware doesn't refrain from so much hype, and simply present its vision in the context of the next generation data center that builds on numerous computing models that came before it, providing transformational benefits to IT over the long term.

At the end of yesterday's session, I gave the trainer my suggestion that he and his counterparts would be much better served by articulating VMware's cloud vision around
words and key positioning statements like:

* Evolutionary
* Evolving
* Comprising m
any phases that will take years to fully realize all the benefits
* V
irtualization is a key underpinning for building cloud infrastructures
* It's relevant to you "Mr. Customer" whether your long term objective is to build a private cloud, public cloud, or a hybrid cloud to best align with your changing business needs

I seriously doubt the VMware trainer gave
any credence to my suggestions. I think he's been sucked into the hype vortex. But based on what I learned yesterday, I'm more convinced than ever that we're a long way from seeing any vendor take its vision and be able to put all the essential components on a cloud. Until an industry ecosystem achieves openness, interoperability, self-provisioning, elasticity, programmability, trust, control, etc., I won't be contributing to the hype around cloud computing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Can VMware or Oracle Do for Java What Sun was Unable to Do?

Back in August 1999, Sun Microsystems President Ed Zander spoke at a New York press conference where Sun unveiled its strategy for using StarOffice as the centerpiece of building what Zander referred to as a "service-driven network". He declared, "We're seeing a second generation on the Internet... In 1995, it was about the network, in 1999, it's about services." At the time, Sun hoped to encourage a new generation of developers to create web-based applications using StarOffice open source code. Today the battle is in the cloud where Microsoft is countering the Google Apps lineup.

In 2001, Sun opened a new chapter in Java history to more effectively compete with
Microsoft's .Net/SOAP, declaring the Java framework one of the key underpinnings of a service-driven network.

As was often the case throughout Sun's history, it was prescient in its vision, but allowed its competitors to capitalize on its vision with a keener sense of timing, superior marketing, and business execution.

VMware/SpringSource is opening yet another chapter in Java history, envisioning an environment in which developers can define not only how objects connect with one another, but
how they should be packaged into virtual machines and deployed into a virtualized infrastructure.

.Net and the Microsoft tool set are already quite capable of delivering on this similar vision. And to keep the coming batttles even more interesting, Oracle will soon inherit the stewardship of the Java platform, and it's a good bet it will do a better job than Sun.

Time will tell who can best capitalize on its vision with developer mindshare, marketing, and execution.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Will VMware/SpringSource be the Future Foundation for App Development?

We've heard many companies over the last decade hype their vision of a post-OS future whereby the operating system is rendered irrelevant. Back in the mid-late 1990's, Sun Microsystems, Netscape, Novell, and others declared Java the game-changing technology that would be the beginning of the end for Microsoft. We saw how that strategy turned out for Netscape and Novell (and Sun for different reasons), as Microsoft eventually cut off their air supply by bundling its "good enough" browser, directory server, and other widgets into the Microsoft stack for free.

Today, the "new" Netscape and Novell is VMware. Clearly, VMware CEO, Paul Maritz, a former Microsoft executive himself, understands the stakes and the formidable competitor he's up against for dominance in the data center. That's why he and other smart minds at VMware figure it's well worth paying $420 million to purchase SpringSource who had roughly $20 million in annual revenue. It's an expensive bet, but VMware recognizes its strategic vulnerabilities. And it's keenly aware that if it simply continues to innovate at the hypervisor layer, it's only a matter of time before it's driven into irrelevancy by the folks in Redmond -- Similar to what Microsoft did to Netscape and Novell nearly a decade ago.

With SpringSource, VMware gains upper layers of the software stack and the ability to decouple the application from the operating system in much the same way it decouples the operating system from the physical hardware infrastructure today. If Maritz has his way, enterprise developers won't write their applications to an OS anymore. Instead, they will architect applications using the SpringSource open source framework and Java Apache Tomcat application server.

It's a compelling vision, but one fraught with substantial risks. On one side, VMware has Microsoft with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V releasing this Fall at 1/6 the cost of VMware vSphere 4. On the other, VMware faces new rivals in 800 pound gorillas, IBM and Oracle, who both happen to own well established Java development platforms in addition to owning the back-end databases and in the case of Oracle, the enterprise applications that run on them. And most of the mission critical middleware and data-centric applications have yet to be virtualized in production by the vast majority of enterprise customers.

Probably the biggest immediate loser in VMware's SpringSource acquisition is Red Hat. It's revenue streams remain largely tied to Linux OS subscriptions and support and they haven't seemed to be able to turn the JBoss acquisition into a sustainable advantage.

If history is any indicator, VMware's odds are not very good against the likes of Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle. Maritz will need more than the firepower of SpringSource to make VMware the future foundation on which enterprise applications are deployed.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Cloud: Next Generation "Just-In-Time" Computing

When first developed by the Japanese in the 1970's, the idea of just-in-time (JIT) marked a radical new approach to manufacturing. It cut waste by supplying parts only as required. The old approach became known as just-in-case where an inventory of parts was held for every possible eventuality...just in case. Throughout the 1980's and early 1990's, JIT became a business philosophy and a system for production management; However, there was no real master plan or blueprint for JIT.

After attending EMC Forum in Long Beach, CA last Thursday, where VMware, Cisco, and EMC (referred by EMC as the 'VCE Alliance') got on stage to talk about a shared vision around cloud computing, it occurred to me this next generation computing model correlates with JIT. After all, the goals of cloud computing are pretty similar. Cloud computing is all about cutting waste to drive efficiency so IT doesn't continue in its old ways of over-provisioning resources, just in case there's an unforeseen spike in demand. And just like JIT had no masterplan or "one size fits all" approach to follow, there's no one cloud computing model that's the de facto model to embrace over another -- at least not now or anytime soon.

As the saying goes,"Whatever is old is new again". Cloud computing, although transformational in many ways, builds on established trends that came before it -- network computing, pay-per-use, software-as-a-service (SaaS), and just-in-time manufacturing.